It looks like someone just moved 18,000 Bitcoin to BitMEX, but why?

Is it a whale waiting to trade, or something else?

Yesterday afternoon, just as Bitcoin was struggling back from a torrid 24hrs of trading, and back from the brink of hitting another year low, Twitter users started to note – and speculate upon – a massive transfer of nigh-on 18,000BTC into a wallet associated with high-volume crypto exchange BitMex. The Transfer, which came from sixteen separate addresses, has remained static since then (at least at time of writing).

While the wallet in question is not confirmed as the property of the exchange, which offers highly leveraged trading that has called into question whether it is healthy for the crypto market as a whole, it has the same 3BMEX prefix to its address as all the wallets it uses.

In a market that is nervous, and keen for any sign that can indicate whether things are about to get better or even worse, a move like that, with a dollar value currently north of $113m dollars (at time of writing) was bound to get tongues wagging. This was doubly so as BitMEX’s success has been widely attributed to it offering a range of trading options – currently inaccessible to US-based traders – that allow investors to effectively bet on the price of Bitcoin et al going down, a type of trade known as shorting.

This led to speculation that a big trade was in the offing, with a whale moving into position.

BitMEX is currently the second-rated Exchange based on reported 24hr volumes, according to CoinMarketCap – though these figures are regularly cast into doubt by keen observers – and has twice trumpeted in recent weeks that it has seen over 1m BTC traded using its platform in a single day.

Therefore, as some have pointed out, this movement may not be trade-related at all, rather than just bringing liquidity into its market, or moving BTC to cold storage for a rainier day. Eagle eyes will be watching where those 18,000 Bitcoin go next, though.